RC school board reviews master plan

ROGERS CITY – In its last meeting before classes begin, the Rogers City Area Schools Board of Education reviewed the district’s master plan while taking stock of progress.

Board members reviewed the plan Monday during a workshop meeting, crossing off many proposed improvements to the middle school and high school that have since been realized. They also reviewed what should stay on and be added to the five- and 10-year plans.

“Every year at this time we go through and basically plan ahead for what facilities and structures does this district need and how can we plan ahead for them,” board President Michael Marx said.

Many of the goals board members put forth in past years for the high school and middle school were satisfied by a roughly $900,000 renovation project that replaced exterior walls, windows, lights and thermostats, among other changes, Marx and Principal Dave O’Bryant said. Contractors replaced older, single-pane windows with walls and smaller, more energy-efficient windows over the summer. The changes were obvious as the board sat in the middle school library beside new sections of wall, and a renovation crew member worked on another window in the courtyard outside.

“Now we can move ahead with other ideas, and hopefully the energy savings will free up some money also,” Marx said.

Those proposals include making continued improvements to district athletic facilities at Gilpin Field. Board members and administrators said the track there could use a rubberized surface, the fieldhouse could be updated and new bleachers may be needed as well.

The district made improvements to its lighting, security and signage, but Superintendent Katy Xenakis-Makowski said she wants to leave this item on the five-year plan. She’d like to explore these issues for the elementary school.

Another recurring item is pushing for the sale or transfer of the Grambau Education Center. The district has moved its administrative office out of the building, satisfying one goal on the list, Marx said. Administrators and board members also will keep an eye on the timber market for another possible sale from its school forest.

Other goals include interior updates for the elementary school, and two teachers in attendance mentioned they’d like more smartboards in classrooms. One possible long-term goal would be to build a cafetorium between the elementary and high school/middle school buildings, Xenakis-Makowski said. The idea has come up before, and while she mentioned it as a “pipeline dream,” neither buildings have a dedicated eating space.

Whatever construction or capital project the district pursues, Xenakis-Makowski said she’s proud of the progress it has made.

“I’m excited to see where we go from here,” she said.

In other business:

* Mike Buchinger will be the district’s new elementary special education teacher, pending a background check. Board members unanimously approved hiring the 28-year-old Alpena High graduate and Northern Michigan University alum. Prior to coming back to Northeast Michigan with his wife and kids, he was teaching special education in Kodiak, Alaska, he said. He’s looking forward to being closer to his family and doing some of the things he enjoyed while growing up in the area.

* board members approved hiring Buchinger as assistant junior varsity football coach.

* the district will contract with Superior Equipment Repair to service its bus fleet. Board members approved a contract where for $60 an hour the business will service the district’s buses, Xenakis-Makowski said. The contract differs from last year’s, where the district paid a fee for certain routine maintenance and an hourly rate for anything beyond that.

* high school seniors will see no changes in how honors diplomas are awarded. Board members agreed to keep requirements the same for the year and discuss possible future changes at their December workshop. O’Bryant recommended leaving the requirements unchanged to give the board more time to consider new requirements.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.